Social Networking in Telematics

I'm on my way back from the ITS 2009 world conference in Stockholm --- see the website of the World Contress and Exhibition on Intelligent Transport Systems and Services for more information about this conference. We were showcasing an application that combines social networking with vehicle telematics. The past few days were really exhausting, but it definitely was worth it.

Our company LodgON was selected as one of the four finalists of the CVIS Application Contest. CVIS is a project funded by the European Commission. In this project, a global architecture is defined that allows the creation of cooperative vehicle applications. Developers use the Service Development Kit, based on the OSGi software of MakeWave and create their own applications.

The four finalists developed different applications, ranging from pedestrian safety over intelligent agents to the social networking application that we developed. Visitors of the CVIS booth could vote for one of the finalists. We won the silver prize, worth 15.000 EUR. I am happy because we won this prize, and I am unhappy since we didn't win the gold prize (25.000 EUR).

For LodgON, this conference was also very important since we demonstrated our Dali-based vehicle social networking application. You can find more information about this application at our website. We have a strong background in Social Networking, and most of the LodgON employees also have a background in Telematics. This combination automatically leads to a Social Networking application for telematics. My main question, though, was if the automotive industry was ready for this kind of applications. I am extremely pleasant surprised that indeed there was a huge interest from conference visitors in our application. Road authorities, car OEM's, telecom operators, consumer organisations,... they all showed a clear interest in Social Networking, and they definitely do realize the benefits of social networking if it is properly implemented.

With our Social CVIS application, we showed that the research and development we have done during the past years in the field of social networking is really rewarding. We know the ins and outs, the benefits and pittfalls. We realize the importance of social status, we balance between clarity and fine-grained permission models. Social networking is more than having an account on facebook. The return on investment can be huge, but your project can also fail completely if you don't combine users expectations with the goals of the company/organisation that is behind the project.
We will have some work in the coming weeks, with the follow-up of the new contacts we have (and the re-connection with some old friends). But there are lots of opportunities out there now.

From a technical point of view (and in the end, that is what I am mostly involved with), this project has been fun as well. We combined our experience with OSGi, Glassfish and JavaFX in order to create the prototype. Glassfish is really mature, and more than ready for production. We already knew this, but it's proven once again. The ease of development and the clear way of operations is worth a lot. The Jersey bundle in Glassfish (yes, we talk bundles since we use Glassfish v3) is one of my favourites, it allows an uncoupled REST-based client-server approach.
We showed 4 clients for our application, one of them being a JavaFX mobile client, using GPS data through JSR 179. I have been working with GPS data often, and in most cases it came down to using the serial COMM port and talking to native GPS drivers. Which is fun for a while. I was extremely happy and positively surprised when I discovered that JavaFX supports JSR 179, and it takes about 10 lines of code in order to read the exact position from my HTC Diamond phone. This is one of the reasons I believe in JavaFX: easy support for real devices.

The telematics, location based social networking server is based on our Dali Community Server. We announced our Dali Roadmap last week as well, and the positive feedback we got about this application proved to me that we made the right decisions in the development of Dali.

written on 25 Sep 2009 11:08.

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